Fox, Mouse D.C. spin

Chernin, Padden push anti-pirate pic measures

WASHINGTON — The Fox and the Mouse continued their high-profile chase Wednesday to enlist Washington’s help in stopping Internet thievery, with News Corp. topper Peter Chernin saying downloading a pirated pic is no different from breaking in and robbing a video store.

“The truth is that stealing is stealing,” Chernin said during a luncheon hosted by the Media Institute think tank.

Chernin was flanked at the head table by Disney exec veep and top lobbyist Preston Padden. Together, the two have been walking the halls of Congress, pushing for legislation that would force the tech biz to come up with a universal standard stopping pirated movies from being download from peer-to-peer Internet sites.

The proposed legislation, drafted by Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.), could be introduced as early as this week.

The major Hollywood studios are divided when it comes to the portion of the legislation addressing peer-to-peer piracy. Warner Bros. and parent company AOL Time Warner believe the private sector should be left alone to negotiate such technologies, and that a broad government mandate isn’t beneficial.

But Disney and Fox say the tech sector hasn’t been willing to address this area.

Computer companies and Hollywood, however, are close to announcing technologies which would stop over-the-air, digital broadcast from being hooked up to the Internet.

In general, tech execs and consumer electronics companies say the entertainment biz is trying to bog down digital technology with too many restrictions.

Chernin countered that Hollywood is taking an unfair beating in the press. At the same, time he conceded that the industry has to do a better job educating the public about the dangers and consequences of digital piracy. He said Fox is considering several initiatives, including PSAs.

Younger generations, raised on the Internet and the music file-swapping site Napster, may not even realize they are stealing by downloading a pirating pic, Chernin said.

“We somehow are encouraging them,” Chernin said. “It’s a very tough generational problem.”

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